Misconceptions and a lack of regulation for corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Cambodia are the main challenges facing ethical business practices in the country, an expert has said.
Speaking at the Green Business Forum, organized by EuroCham Cambodia in Phnom Penh last week, Romina De Jong, chairman of the pro-business group, said local companies associated CSR solely with donating money to charity.
She explained that it has a much broader definition involving methods of running a business responsibly and ethically when it comes to the environment, employees, customers and the community.
Cambodian business leaders, she added, rarely see the potential benefits and importance of incorporating CSR practices into company policy.
“Now we are actually just waiting for companies to take up this responsibility on their own, and there are companies that are doing that in an increasing manner,” she said.
“Companies are doing that, but of course it will be more helpful if we can point to a specific law or environmental code and say let this apply [to] everyone that runs a business in Cambodia. So then we can put more force to the case of responsible business in Cambodia,” she added.
Tin Ponlok, Secretary General of Cambodia National Council for Sustainable Development, said Cambodian business leaders were “very pragmatic” and would not change overnight.
“The council will consult with concerned government institutions and private sector operators to design concrete measures,” he said.
Sao Chakrya, CSR manager for Raytecs Cambodia, a Dutch-owned garment firm, told the forum that companies were generally uninterested by CSR as it required long-term investment and returns were not seen for several years.
However, she added that long-term benefits included low staff turnover, which helped reduce costs, and high productivity due to increased employee satisfaction.
“If we care about our employees, they are happy so they take care of our products, too. It means the produced products are high quality. They do not do it just for the sake of doing it,” she said.